Cosmos: Old School (2002) – part seventeen

It must be interesting for Gene to have a pet like Murph running around his house. For one thing, Cat-snakes are fairly sizable creatures, with bodies longer than the average Cosmosian is tall; and the ability to rear up and look them straight in the eye. As such, fully-grown individuals have quite a bit of weight to throw around, to say nothing of their snake-like flexibility and ability to constrict; or their feline temperament and sharp teeth! I imagine it would be like living with a big, furry Boa constrictor with designs on being a tiger….

Being a cartoon animal, Murph is also demonstrably sentient, capable of complex (if somewhat self-centered)  reasoning and intelligent cross-species communication – he can go toe-to-toe with Gene mentally, and possesses sufficient cunning to get what he wants in ways the average real-life cat could not. Today the kitchen, tomorrow the world!

2002 17_1
Top: when it comes to securing food – his own or someone else’s – Murph is perfectly willing to suspend his moral scruples to trick Gene into letting down his guard. Good thing he’s such a pushover, huh, Murph?

Bottom: the practice of giving cats baths, quite frankly, baffles me. One, they hate water. Two, they have a series of extremely sharp cat-weapons they can deploy, if they take exception to your ‘helpful suggestion’. And three, they’re perfectly capable of cleaning themselves with their own tongues! Giving a dog a bath I can understand (they love it!), but a cat? I suspect similar strips in Jim Davis’ Garfield inspired this story – and Gene is clearly enough of a traditionalist to consider it a good idea, as well….

2002 17_20001
Top: this strip highlights a contentious issue in Cosmos – if characters like Murph and Newton ‘talk’ using thought bubbles, can the other characters (who talk normally) actually understand them? In the first bath time strip, Gene is unsure whether he’s being made fun of, suggesting that although he can see Murph’s histrionics, he isn’t privy to the ‘vocal’ component; but in the second he responds directly to Murph’s assertions that he needs his rubber ducky, suggesting that – in this case, at least – he can hear every word the erstwhile feline has said! Aaaaagh, continuity headache….

Bottom: the act of a cat arching its back to look threatening is very much accentuated in the long, bendy spinal columns of Cat-snakes, as seen here. But also, clearly, is the risk of throwing your back out when you arch a bit too enthusiastically – Ouch.

2002 17_30001
Top: yes, Newton does have a mouth; you just can’t see it unless he’s A) eating something, or B) yelling / laughing his head off. And like all rodents, he loves to gnaw on things – whether it’s actually safe to do so or not! He leaves himself open to the most frightful abuses, does Newton.

Bottom: Do not disturb Kitty-witty when he is trying to sleepy-weepy…. Whoops, too late.

2002 17_40001
Top: This is precisely why the scientific name for the Cosmosian Cat-snake is Felis constrictus – their idea of a ‘friendly hug’ may be a bit more…. painful than you were expecting. Like I said before: Furry. Boa. Constrictor.

Bottom: although the venerable scratching post may be a redundant item for Cosmosian felines, other pet supplies – such as the dreaded jingly, jangly bell collar – are all too familiar to them; much to their shame and embarrassment. Murph certainly seems to be making a convincing argument for ‘Banning the Bell’, especially in panel four….

2002 17_50001
Top: sneaking past your arch-nemesis is plainly impossible, when you have…. a traitor in the ranks!

Bottom: Here’s another example to muddy the waters of the ‘Can Gene understand what Murph is saying?’ debate – once again, he seems utterly oblivious to Murph’s utter glee at the destruction of his unwanted new fashion item; and less aware still of Mr. Catt’s hardly-overjoyed reaction to the revelation that there’s an entire box of them lurking in the closet. Even Murph’s body language seems to be slipping Gene by…. so who knows what’s going on here?

2002 17_60001
Top: like the old saying tells us, ‘Don’t get mad, get even.’ And when Murph has an axe to grind, doesn’t do anything by halves: Subtlety? Tact? Ha.
Blunt-force trauma will do him nicely, thanks.

Bottom: the idea for this strip came from a generic cat / dog gag I sketched out prior to 2002, but then never developed further; wherein the Dog-Next-Door was played, appropriately enough, by a stumpy-legged weiner dog. Much like the fill-in-the-blank feline in the original doodle, Murph seems to have forgotten that if your low-slung enemy can rear up just effectively as you can, being in an elevated position means absolutely jack-diddly squat!

TO BE CONTINUED….

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